Steps to stop the rot: on dangers of storing foodgrains in the open
Mains Paper: 3 | Agriculture
Prelims level: Mouldy grain
Mains level: Explain the important of storing food grains with proper mechanism.
• In India, the height of the rainy season is a time that one prays will pass because of flooded roads, wet clothes, masses of insects and mould.
• No place is safe from the growth of fungi that spring up overnight.
• With the humidity in the air and the warmth of summer, all that fungi need is something to feed on.
• To prevent fungal attack.
• We need to store food items at home in airtight containers with well-fitting lids or in sealed plastic bags.
comparison between and other countries
• In other parts of the world, grain is stored in silos.
• The stored grain is kept dry and aired so as to prevent fungal and insect attacks.
• Today, the U.S. has a permanent storage capacity nearly equivalent to its annual grain production.
• But in India, the government has considered only four silos to be sufficient for the nation’s needs.
• In Uttar Pradesh, is the most modern with a storage capacity of 500 tonnes.
Invitation to illness
• According to WHO report eating mouldy grain causes a variety of illnesses.
• The paper says: Aflatoxicosis causes abdominal pain, vomiting, hepatitis and (sometimes) death after acute exposure to high concentrations in food.
• Chronic low dose exposure to aflatoxin can result in impaired growth in children.
• For these reason traditional wisdom ensured that mouldy food was discarded.
• Today, our grain, especially wheat and paddy, is stored outdoors under tarpaulins through the rainy season.
• After this, grain is converted to flour or flour-based products or de-husked, which we store in airtight containers and bins to prevent mould.
• However, this is shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
• The mycotoxins which we seek to prevent by keeping food dry are already present from the time the flour was stored in the form of grain.
Steps need to be taken by governments
• The government is aware of the deadly consequences of grain with mycotoxins.
• Although there are regulations in place to prevent the purchase of mouldy grain from farmers.
• There do not seem to be any published studies on the extent of mould infection in grain stored using the CAP method.
• However, one does not need these studies.
• All one has to do is purchase flour from the market, make rotis, bread or biscuits and compare the taste with similar products from developed countries.
• The “nutty taste” of wheat is missing in what is available in the Indian market.
• If you get wheat from farmers and get it ground, you will find the “nutty taste”.
• When there is an abundance of steel, cement and other building materials, money and the technological know-how?
• Why is the government not moving on a war footing to store food grains in the proper manner?
• How is it acceptable that our foodgrains, which the public pays to procure, are stored in the open under tarpaulins?
• How can we gloat about a growing economy when 30 million tonnes of foodgrain is stored outside under tarpaulins?
• Why is there no effort being made to ensure that grain being procured annually is stored properly?
• Are our planners unaware of what is going on even in their own kitchens?
UPSC Prelims Questions:
Q.1) Consider the following statement about mouldy Grain.
1. Eating mouldy grain causes a variety of illnesses
2. According to a World Health Organisation paper, mycotoxins, which are found in mouldy grain/foods, are associated with human disease and produce aflatoxins (cancer-causing), trichothecenes, ochratoxins, citrinin and other toxins
3. Aflatoxicosis causes abdominal pain, vomiting, hepatitis and (sometimes) death after acute exposure to high concentrations in food
4. Chronic low dose exposure to aflatoxin can result in impaired growth in children
Choose the correct statement(s) from the above
A. 1 only
B. 2 and 4 only
C. 2 and 3 only
D. All of the above
UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1) Explain the important of storing food grains with proper mechanism.